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Embarcadero Platform Aims at Native, Multi-Device App Development

Embarcadero Technologies Inc. today announced a new development platform to help coders build native mobile and other apps targeting multiple devices with one codebase.

The Appmethod platform promises 20x faster multi-device app development for Android iOS, OS X and Windows OSes running on smartphones, tablets, traditional desktops/laptops and the emerging Google Glass devices, the company said.

"Utilizing Appmethod's cross-platform component APIs, developers can rapidly write complex and high performance compiled mobile and desktop clients, with database access, cloud access, and enterprise interoperability across multiple platforms, all without sacrificing capability or performance," said Michael Swindell, the company's senior vice president of products.

With the platform's IDE, developers can use one common API backing more than 100 native, cross-platform UI controls, such as buttons and listviews. The IDE can connect to local or remote SQL-based databases and turn the data to accessible information. That enterprise data or custom-built APIs can be exposed through Embarcadero's homegrown middleware or through SOAP or REST/JSON. The company's REST-based Enterprise Mobility Services middleware stack also provides connectors for Oracle, IBM DB2, Informix, Sybase, PostgresSQL, MySQL, Interbase and other databases, along with in-memory data management, caching and some data analysis.

Appmethod apps must be built with Object Pascal, though C++ support is promised in the next few months. Embarcadero claimed its new cross-platform development solution is the only one on the market that doesn't require scripting solutions such as JavaScript or other interpreters to produce machine code at run time or depend on virtual machines. Instead, it compiles apps that run directly on the CPU.

Such native, cross-platform app development addresses a major pain point for developers who target multiple devices. In fact, last summer, as reported here by Keith Ward, Embarcadero sponsored a Windows developer survey that highlighted this problem. "A strong majority, 85 percent, of developers believe natively compiled apps give a better user experience than scripted/interpreted languages," Ward reported, "but just 17 percent are confident they can deliver native apps for two or more mobile platforms."

Embarcadero had been targeting such cross-platform development with its Delphi XE5, C++ Builder XE5 and RAD Studio XE5 tools, based on products from Borland Software that it acquired in 2007. The company said developers currently using one of those products don't need to upgrade because the products share the same capabilities. "You can think of Appmethod as a FireMonkey-only edition of RAD Studio," it said. FireMonkey is the company's tool for leveraging CPU and GPU resources to build native apps for Windows, Mac and iOS platforms. Embarcadero's XE5 solutions will receive major platform updates and capabilities at first but in the second half of the year will be upgraded together.

The new platform was first unveiled just before the recent South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, where Embarcadero provided more details on the product and invited developers to use it to build apps for Google Glass.

Appmethod is available as a free trial, and subscription pricing is based on per-platform, per-developer individual ($299) or business ($999) plans, while Enterprise Mobility Services are priced separately depending upon the number of devices serviced.

You can find online help, including tutorials, library and language references, code and project samples and more at the company's Appmethod wiki.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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